Tuesday, March 27, 2012

For Boris

Even though Boris was more of a lover than a hunter, I've always loved this little poem that captures the companionship between one monk and his cat so beautifully. If you don't already know it, it dates from roughly the 9th century and was written by an Irish monk in a manuscript now known as the Reichenauer Schulheft.

The translation below is by Robin Flower:


I and Pangur Bán, my cat
'Tis a like task we are at;
Hunting mice is his delight
Hunting words I sit all night.

Better far than praise of men
'Tis to sit with book and pen;
Pangur bears me no ill will,
He too plies his simple skill.

'Tis a merry thing to see
At our tasks how glad are we,
When at home we sit and find
Entertainment to our mind.

Oftentimes a mouse will stray
In the hero Pangur's way:
Oftentimes my keen thought set
Takes a meaning in its net.

'Gainst the wall he sets his eye
Full and fierce and sharp and sly;
'Gainst the wall of knowledge I
All my little wisdom try.

When a mouse darts from its den,
O how glad is Pangur then!
O what gladness do I prove
When I solve the doubts I love!

So in peace our tasks we ply,
Pangur Bán, my cat, and I;
In our arts we find our bliss,
I have mine and he has his.

Practice every day has made
Pangur perfect in his trade;
I get wisdom day and night
Turning darkness into light.


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  2. I love it. Thank you for sharing it with all of us in your time of sadness. I hope your fond memories are a comfort to you.

  3. Another fine orange cat that I loved was named Pangur Ban. His owners were impressed that I knew about the poem, but it was only because of you, Dg.

  4. I found myself smiling as I read this poem and thought of Boris, though he was probably more likely to stalk a feather toy than a real mouse. I'm continuing to think of you both with love.
    Love, Katie